June 2017

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Before I say ANYTHING about my video or stick and mud season, I want to wish a happy birthday to my friend and fandom partner in crime [personal profile] heartofoshun. I love you as an author and a scholar but most of all as a friend. I appreciate so much all you do for our little corner of the Interwebz and for me personally. Few people in my life have been so unconditionally supportive of me, and I can't express how much it means. I hope your day is as wonderful as you deserve!

Next things next: My video has creaked through the YouTube upload process on my satellite Internet. It's just the audio of me reading my paper with the slides. So this one is not 45 minutes of watching me sit and read! It's also only 20 minutes. I haven't watched it, so if there is anything egregious in the images or audio, it's a mistake--please let me know! The images are pretty crappy on my computer, but YouTube videos are usually pretty crappy on my computer--to the point that I can't always do my Drupal tutorials if it's rainy or snowy or windy because I can't see the image well enough to get anything out of it!--so I hope they're not actually that bad for people with normal Internet. If they are ... it's doubtful I'm going to have time to do anything about it, since it is basically redoing the video. But it can be used as a last resort as a sleep aid, presuming my accent isn't terribly annoying.



And! It was amazingly effing beautiful weather today. It was like Vermont said, "Fuck! It's spring!" and decided to do something about it. It was 77F/25C driving home from work this afternoon and brilliantly sunny. Most of the snow is now gone. And the river is thawed so ...

What else to do but go kayaking, right?? Bobby texted me when he got home--I was still working, of course!--and I pretty much packed up and left immediately, and he had the kayaks on the car already by the time I arrived home. We launched just a couple hundred yards/meters from our house because the river is so high that places that are normally an impossibly steep bank are only about a foot above the water now.

The Barton River flows near our house. Well, normally, it lazes past our house. It's a very calm river. In February, we had a few very warm days and a thaw, and the river rose to where River Road was, in places, just a car-wide track with water on either side. It wasn't so dramatic this time, but the river did rise to about a foot below the road on Friday. It's much lower now, but it actually has a current to it.

So going down the river was easy and fun. At one point, there was a tree fallen across the river except for a two-foot wide passage. I knew as soon as I went into it that I was going to regret it going back: With the current funneling into that tiny outlet, my kayak shot through like I was on the log flume at a theme park. It was hella fun! We rowed down to the bridge where Coventry Station Road crosses the river mostly because it was a logical turn-around point and I wanted to go under the bridge. This is our usual launch point on the Barton because it has a public access with a path down to the water. Looking at Google Maps, we paddled about 1.5 miles/2.5 km round-trip.

The row back was definitely tough, not helped by the fact that the only arm workout I've gotten since packing up the kayaks last fall is occasionally hauling wood pellets up from the barn--and Bobby does that most of the time! I almost didn't make it back through the log flume. It took two tries. It didn't help that the first time, Bobby essentially piled his kayak onto mine from behind! I let him through and tried again, and made it.

River Road runs parallel with a set of train tracks (a train came through while we were paddling, which was cool), and beyond the railroad bridge, the water was still solid ice. It was like looking through a portal into the North Pole.

We saw quite a few critters: two beavers, a great blue heron, what appeared to be a red-tailed hawk, umpteen redwing blackbirds, lots of different waterfowl. We're officially in mud season. One day last week, I stepped out of the car and sank about an inch into the driveway. But all in all, it hasn't been too bad. People always warn us first about the long winters--and we survived our first of those--and then mud season, and we're surviving that too. (It helps that we have an amazing road guy who has raked the road about weekly since the snow melted off of it. Our road is pretty scary when the traction isn't good, so I think I'd feel differently about mud season if not for our road guy. <3 to the Coventry road guy!)

It's also stick season since our trees are far from blooming or leafing out up here ... but some have buds! And I'm starting to sneeze more, which tells me they're doing their thing. And there is some green among the grass: faint and brave but there.

Right now? I'm tired. I want to stretch out somewhere and read. I wonder if my arms will be sore tomorrow.
I am presently on the train to New York, for the New York Tolkien Conference, stopped in Brattleboro in sight of Whetstone, the excellent nanobrewery that changes their beer menu daily. My train left Waterbury ... at 10:20, more than four and a half hours ago.

No, Vermont is not that big. The train was slowing down to stop in Brattleboro, people were standing in the aisles collecting their luggage, when the brakes went on hard. I heard one of the conductors say, "Uh oh, what happened?"

Remember last time I was on the Vermonter, when the train in front of us derailed? I didn't think we'd top that.

A few minutes later, the conductor came over the PA system. The train struck a "trespasser" (their words; I detest it in this context, although I understand the legal reasoning for it), who was pronounced dead immediately.

This was at 1:30, so two and a half hours later, we are just beginning to move. You know what? I don't care. I keep thinking about the poor person on the tracks, the "trespasser," and wonder why they were there, did they not hear the train? Or ...? To be fair, everyone was really decent about it, at least in my car, even though quite a few people were destined for Brattleboro, which was just a short walk away. No one complained, although the people seated near me for some reason misunderstood universally (maybe hopefully?) that the train had hit an animal. Ever the Mary Sunshine, I corrected them.

I did get a lot of work done while waiting, and some non-work too. I remember reading someone once remarking that many academics write their conference presentations on the plane to the conference. I couldn't do that! Anyone who knows me knows that my inner Hermione is hyperventilating at the mere thought. Of course I am not an academic and don't really aim to be! But I did do much of the Powerpoint on the train, so maybe that qualifies me to move up from baby-scholar status to wannabe-scholar. (I'm never sure what to call myself. The s-word seems fraught.)

I'm going to get something to eat. And a beer. I was expecting to arrive in the city in two hours and we just crossed into Massachusetts. I'm hungry, but I couldn't bring myself to buy pizza and beer while a person was dead under the train.

This week was pretty busy, mostly with getting ready for the conference (I think Oshun will be happy to not get any emails from me for a few days! I clicked the wrong button my phone today, and she was listed as my only Frequent Contact, which sums up my last week quite succinctly!) but also continuing to work on the house. We painted the living room and hallway this week, which involved a lot of taping and finicky, detailed work and so took longer than I wanted to spend on it.

We had fun too. On Sunday, we climbed Mount Pisgah, the third-highest mountain in the Northeast Kingdom, with both dogs. We didn't mean to. We thought we were climbing the more modest nearby Bald Mountain, but Vermont played a joke on us and had two identically named roads on opposite sides of the access area, with both trails blazed in blue. The only clue was to "walk east" from the access area, and I guess we walked west. (We did, I realize now that I'm thinking about us in relation to nearby Lake Willoughby, but I honestly wasn't thinking about it. I saw the road name, Bobby found the blue blaze, and we were both like, "HERE.") We made it to the top--even Lance! our little old man--and the view was as stunning as one would expect of the third-highest mountain in the Northeast Kingdom and overlooking Lake Willoughby to boot. We only figured out that it was the wrong mountain because there was supposed to be a fire tower and wasn't!

Oh am I out of shape! Remember when I was snowshoeing up mountains this winter? Four months of thesis-writing followed by all the chaos of moving (and making it to the gym maybe twice per week and usually copping out and doing weights when I did) means that ain't happening unless I get back to work.

On Wednesday, we took our trusty old inflatable Sea Eagle kayak out on the Barton River that runs near our house. We rowed (and floated a good deal, enjoying the scenery, the wildlife, and some incredibly scented flower that we never identified) for three and a half hours and made it most the way to the South Bay of Lake Memphremagog and back. We now know that if we row more than we float, we can easily make it. (If we cross the entire South Bay to Newport, we can treat ourselves to a nice lunch as well, but our neighbor says that it is ten miles from the access area near our house, so we might have to build up to that.)

We saw and heard these massive brown birds and assumed, they're massive so they'll be easy to identify, right? And it's Vermont, so it's not like there are hundreds of species of things. We've struck out utterly. Anything that lives in Vermont that looks like them doesn't sound anything like them.

Yesterday was Lancelot's ninth birthday, so we took both Goldens to Prouty Beach on Lake Mem in the evening and let them get in the water. It was Gwen's first time in the water, and she jumped and splashed with such unbridled joy that, when she'd stop, she had to catch her breath. Lance frolicked a little too but mostly acted like an old man in a pool and stood belly deep in the water. Gwen also treated herself to a nice roll in the sand that left her filthy. (Whose birthday was it again?)

I have so much catching up to do--including pictures from our various adventures!--but for now it is pizza and beer time.
In now under one week, I will be in New York for the New York Tolkien Conference, where I will be presenting with Oshun a paper titled The Borders of the (Fictional) World: Fan Fiction Archives, Ideological Approaches, and Fan Identity. If you'll be in New York next Saturday and want to attend the conference, tickets are available here for $11 pre-registration ($15 at the door). It's a really great conference and you can't beat the cost.

I will also be in New York for the weekend, arriving Friday late afternoon and departing Sunday morning, so I'd love to meet up if anyone is interested. I'll be by myself this year, as we don't yet know anyone here well enough to impose on them to watch the Goldens for a weekend. Last year, we did a dinner after the conference, so if you're interested in doing that again, or meeting Friday evening or at the conference on Saturday, please let me know in a comment here or email me at DawnFelagund@gmail.com.

I have one thousand things I want to write about here, but my days have looked something like work on the house during the day, work on conference stuff at night with very little to spare. I will definitely have to catch up soon, though; there's so much in these last three weeks that I want to remember.
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Okay, at long last, I am sharing the video of my presentation at the New York Tolkien Conference here. The full title (which will not fit in the space allotted for titles) is "The Loremasters of Fëanor: Historical Bias in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Transformative Works." It discusses both the evidence for historical bias in Tolkien's works (especially The Silmarillion) and how the fan community uses that bias to create fanworks.



You won't be able to see the data and other visual aids on the screen behind me. That data (as well as a detailed synopsis of the paper) is available on my blog The Heretic Loremaster.

Also, a friendly reminder that The Heretic Loremaster does have a feed set up on both LJ and DW at [syndicated profile] heretic_lore_feed. Following this feed will bring new HL posts directly to your flist. Because my journal has come to be just that--a journal--it is usually the last place that I bring fannish stuff; however, I know a lot of people who friended me here did so because of our shared fandom involvement, so if you miss seeing that stuff here, the HL feed might help a bit. (Just a bit because it is infrequently updated thanks to my grad school schedule!) Also, please remember that I have no ownership or control over this feed, which means that I don't receive comments left on feed posts. Please comment directly on the posts themselves; no membership is required to do so.

The paper will eventually be available to read but I need to clean up citations first. If you don't mind my sloppy sourcing and want a copy early, just let me know.
I had to let the video upload on YouTube run overnight because of my current Internet situation but--at last!--the video of my presentation on Saturday at Mythmoot is finally ready. The full title (which is too long to fit in the title field) is "Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community." The paper covers the history of Tolkien fan fiction, the development of online communities, and the use of Tolkien fan fiction as a means for writers to not only learn more about the texts but to become more analytical and critical readers. This is probably not news for anyone here, but keep in mind that I was presenting to a general (and not necessarily fanfic-friendly) audience at a fantasy studies conference.

The handout for the presentation can be found here. An audio-only version of the presentation can be found here.



Thoughts and reactions are most welcome, of course! :)
The full title (which DW will not let me post in its entirety) is "At the Root of the Tree of Tales:
Using Comparative Myth and 'On Fairy-Stories' to Analyze Tolkien's Cosmogony." This is a video of me reading--very exciting!--my paper at Mythmoot today. I hope the paper is more interesting than 17 minutes of watching me read, part of the time obscured by my computer before Bobby realized and moved the camera. ;)

Anyway, the YouTube summary, which I will reuse because I am too tired to make new, is:

This paper, presented at the Mythmoot II conference in Baltimore on 15 December 2013, looks at J.R.R. Tolkien's creation story, the "Ainulindale," in comparison to other world creation myths. The paper touches on similarities between Tolkien's story and other myths and the reasons for those connections but emphasizes how the differences--particularly the use of subcreation and creation through music--emphasize themes of integral importance to Tolkien's fictional world and life as an author.




If you'd rather listen to the paper as a podfic, the audio file is on the SWG here. If anyone wants a copy of the paper, email me at DawnFelagund@gmail.com; it will eventually be published in the conference proceedings (which I believe are going to be publicly available and which I will naturally link to when they are).
So before I go into any great detail, all I'm going to say about the past two days is that I had such an excellent time.

Because nothing can be merely accomplished without some drama involved, then the weather decided to throw a wrench at our cogs. Bobby was tracking throughout the week a winter storm set to hit on Saturday, the first day of the conference. He broke the news to me about mid-week, as the possibility began to really take shape. We decided to get a hotel room for Saturday night, just in case. By Friday night, Carroll County was under a winter storm warning with as much as an additional 10 inches (25 cm) expected, beginning mid-morning on Saturday. Thankfully, temperatures ended up being much warmer than anticipated, and while we got a couple more inches here in north Carroll, it was not enough to prevent our going home between days. (Which was our preference since we just laid out a lot of money to travel to England for the holidays.) And my very first conference was saved.

It started early Saturday morning. Read more... )
Well, it's official! My paper proposal for Mythmoot II has been accepted! *subdued and slightly terrified squeeeee* This will be my first conference presentation. However, since it specifically encourages fans, students, and first-time presenters, then I think it's as good a time as any to take this particular plunge. This means I need to double-down on preparing for it, though; I've been negligent here, in part because I think I didn't want to get my hopes up and ... :^|

The conference is in Baltimore, and I'm hoping that maybe I see some fellow Silmgeeks there ...? :D

In other good news, it is Friday, and I have survived the first two weeks of school in one piece. The beginning of the year is always the hardest part. It's lots of single-class lessons, which means more planning. Next week, I will be settling in to reading some texts with my classes that should take more than a class period to get through.

In other good news, Bobby is making another attempt at The Silmarillion and seems to be enjoying it more this time than the other two (??) times he's tried it. He has been taking Mythgard courses with me, so I think he likes being able to connect it in to the larger history and mythology ... exactly the opposite of how I did things, which was to read the Silm and then become interested in the history and mythology. He's at present pondering something that I'm nudging him to write up and post to the SWG. I'm shameless. I've been trying to get him into the Silm for years.

Okay, to close out, I have some cute pictures. Well, one is probably only cute to me, but the other is most likely cute to anyone warm-blooded.

Cute Pictures )